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Angelus Foundation video highlights dangers of legal highs including hallucinations, sweats, and out-of-body experiences

By Kiran Kaur

Two youngsters have given the most graphic warning against the dangers of over-the-counter drugs... their own experiences.

In a ground-breaking video the two Kent men have told of scary experiences after taking so-called legal highs - which can be bought as easily and legally as a tin of beans.

They speak out in the UK’s first educational video highlighting the dangers of one of the most common legal highs.

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Legal highs are a growing problem

The five minute 30 second film features two people from the county, aged 19 and 21, sharing their experiences of taking synthetic cannabis.

Will, 19, says he took the drug because he thought it was harmless and legal.

He tells how he collapsed on the floor, rolling around and panicking - and had sweating episodes for some time afterwards.

But the most chilling episode came out of nowhere.

Will says: "I was walking through town on my way home and I started getting these crazy hallucinations - these crazy figures that didn't even exist but, where I was so out of it and off my face, I was just believing everything."

Jack, 21, speaking on the Angelus Foundation's video on legal highs
Will, 19, on the legal highs video by the Angelus Foundation

His mother found him screaming, swinging at the air and kicking out.

He describes it as the worst thing to ever happen to him - a "nasty, nasty experience".

Jack, 21, said he suffered sweating, twitching and shallow breathing - and even had an out-of-body experience where he saw himself sitting on a bench.

The substance is created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals which, when consumed, can mimic the effects of the Class-B drug, including feeling faint, paranoid and panicked.

The video has been created by drug and alcohol charity KCA alongside legal highs awareness charity the Angelus Foundation.

Jeremy Sare is director of government affairs and communications at the organisation.

He said: “Legal highs are very often termed generically even though they have very different characteristics.

See KentOnline's campaign to crack down on legal highs

"Probably the biggest group of all is synthetic cannabis so we decided to do a film specifically about that range of products.

“We are having to bust some myths and break the illusions that some people have that these are fairly low risk or a ‘jokey’ sort of product that you might try at a party. They’re not. This stuff really knocks you out.”

The video is opened by comedian Jeff Leach, who is an ambassador for the Angelus Foundation.

A Trading Standards officer examines a cabinet displaying incense
Police and trading standards shortly after raiding the 420 Head Shop in Maidstone

While the organisation is a nationwide charity, KCA only has offices based in Kent.

Mr Sare felt it wanted to team up with them due to the progress they have made on researching legal highs and how they are used across the county.

He said: “KCA has actually done some analysis which other counties haven’t done and actually started drilling down into what the impact of these substances was and what the impact of a head shop on a town was so they were natural partners for us and it’s been working extremely well.”

The Angelus Foundation has fought to highlight the issue of legal highs and their growth, particularly in Kent.

In January they revealed their research found Kent has more shops selling legal highs than almost anywhere else in the UK.

"I was walking through town on my way home and I started getting these crazy hallucinations" - Will

Mr Sare now hopes people in the county will pay attention to the video, more so than anyone else in the UK.

He said: “We want this film to go into as many countries as possible but given its focus on Kent, we want to go into schools, colleges, youth clubs, festivals, wherever young people are.

"It’s just to make sure they are educated on the influence of synthetic cannabis. If they then still choose to take it then at least they’re then still armed with the knowledge.

“Nobody’s counting how many people are using these substances but given the higher incidents of head shops, I’d say there was a particular issue that needed addressing in Kent.”

It comes after raids were carried out by trading standards and Kent Police across 20 shops selling legal highs in the county, more than a week ago.

Video: The two youngsters speak out on the Angelus Foundation video

It resulted in officers seizing nearly 1,900 substances.

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